The even thinner blue line: Police fail to visit HALF of Britain’s crime victims as 999 operators try to close cases immediately on the phone
- Emergency 999 operators try to close cases down immediately on the phone
- Scotland Yard now handles half of all crime reports through its telephone unit
- In Bedfordshire, attendance at burglaries fell from 94 per cent in 2014 to 52%
Police are failing to visit victims of crime in half of all cases, shocking new figures reveal.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday into forces across the country has uncovered a dramatic fall in the number of emergency calls responded to by officers.
Against a background of growing ‘Wild West Britain’ violence, 999 operators are trying to close cases down immediately on the phone rather than sending officers to investigate.
Most control rooms – handling 999 and non-emergency 101 calls – now have special units that try to resolve incidents over the phone, with forces around the country giving updates that reflect a new approach to policing [File photo]
Scotland Yard is now handling half of all crime reports through its fast-growing telephone unit.
A Metropolitan Police report reveals that its Telephone and Digital Investigation Unit ‘in June 2019 alone recorded and investigated (where appropriate) 37,000 incidents and now deals with nearly 50 per cent of all recorded crime’.
This is up from 37 per cent just a year ago. Another force now attends only half of its burglary scenes – down from nine in ten a few years ago.
An analysis of control room data from Bedfordshire and Nottinghamshire – carried out at the request of the two forces by crime experts Crest Advisory – found that the average proportion of incidents responded to has plunged from 67 per cent in 2014 to just 58 per cent last year.
Against a background of growing ‘Wild West Britain’ violence, 999 operators are trying to close cases down immediately on the phone rather than sending officers to investigate [File photo]
In Bedfordshire, attendance at burglaries has fallen from 94 per cent to 52 per cent, and for anti-social behaviour from 46 per cent to 37 per cent.
The force has admitted: ‘An ambition is for telephone resolution to become the default option, and where positive justification is required to deploy an officer (the reverse of the present approach).’
Most control rooms – handling 999 and non-emergency 101 calls – now have special units that try to resolve incidents over the phone, with forces around the country giving updates that reflect a new approach to policing.
South Yorkshire Police said: ‘Communication department staff finalise 47.6 per cent of all incidents at the first point of contact, without the need to deploy a resource.’
The West Mercia force said it now resolves 43 per cent of incidents without deploying officers.
Thames Valley Police said: ‘Attendance has dropped from 55 per cent of incidents in 2013/14 to 45 per cent in 2017/18.
Telephone resolutions have increased by 19 per cent during the same period.’
Merseyside Police responded to 47 per cent of incidents reported with emergency or priority response – with the rest either resolved on the phone or left for another day.
Police are failing to visit victims of crime in half of all cases, shocking new figures reveal. An investigation by The Mail on Sunday into forces across the country has uncovered a dramatic fall in the number of emergency calls responded to by officers [File photo]
Devon & Cornwall Police said of its call handlers: ‘The over-arching aim of first contact resolution is to resolve the optimum number of requests for service at the first point of contact without the need to deploy unnecessary and inappropriate resources.’
A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police defended the policy, saying: ‘The sheer lack of resources means that difficult decisions are already having to be made on a daily basis with regard to concentrating on those offences with the greatest risk of threat and harm.’
But London Police and Crime Committee member Susan Hall said: ‘When a victim of crime contacts police, they want justice, not to be fobbed off with a phone call. I welcome the Government funding significant increases in police officer numbers and I hope this will improve the situation.’
Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said: ‘I find these figures very worrying. Where a caller is hurt, frightened or vulnerable there needs to be face-to- face contact.
‘Reporting a crime is not a transactional exercise – it’s not like claiming for accidental damage on your insurance. Face-to-face contact with officers can provide reassurance. It gives a sense that you are not alone.’
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